Dream Inspires Mexican Immigrant To Make Film
ANGELES - Growing up in a small town in Northern Mexico,
Raul Portillo dreamed of making movies. As a child,
he crawled under the bed and made a play theater out
of a bed sheet.
“My uncle and I would tie a white sheet to the
legs of the bed post to create a mock theatre screen,”
he said. “We then lit a candle and placed plastic
soldiers that made a silhouette – those were
Portillo once again brings “Under The Bed Productions”
to Hollywood, where real actors, producers and directors
are giving his short film another shot.
Portillo directed the short film “Benito”
inspired by the lyrics of Spanish composer Joan Manuel
Serrat which will be screened at the 2006 Nosotros
American Latino Film Festival (NALFF) from August
23- 27- 2006. The film festival will take place at
the theatre recently named for the legendary actor,
the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, in the heart of Hollywood.
“Benito” is no stranger to Hollywood.
In 2005, it was also among a select group of films
from Spanish-speaking countries screened at the Los
Angeles Latino International Film Festival presented
by director and actor Edward James Olmos. It is the
only Latin film festival based in Hollywood, the birthplace
of the global film industry.
"We are pleased to exhibit Mr. Portillo's film
and those of other Latino directors and producers
in the hopes of helping provide an audience for their
work and a stepping stone to launch their careers,"
Mr. Olmos said.
Portillo, a 38-year old graphic designer from Muzquiz,
Coahuila, just south of the Texas-Mexico border, was
surprised to know that his very first film project
was accepted in Hollywood one more time.
“My high school years in Texas inspired me to
think big,” he said. “If Robert Rodriguez
could make a film, why not give it a try? I just didn’t
think that my very first film project would actually
be screened in Hollywood – much less twice.”
“Benito” is the story of a young and charismatic
vagabond, inspired by the song with the same title
written by Serrat, one of Spain’s most prolific
composers, who is on tour after undergoing treatment
for bladder cancer and who gave Portillo his blessing
for the use of his song released in 1994. Portillo
wrote a letter to Serrat in Barcelona to request authorization
for the use of the song to feature his film. “Benito”
is Portillo’s first film and he has no previous
experience in filmmaking.
“In order for me to gain experience I needed
a simple story that would project different acting
aspects like drama and comedy,” said Portillo.
“I didn’t have any previous film-making
experience and I didn’t want to worry about
sound and dialogues. Access to the song “Benito”
allowed me to focus on the visuals to interpret the
lyrics of the song. It was an incredible honor when
I received word from Mr. Serrat saying he would be
pleased if I used his song for the theme of my film.”
“Benito” (starring Adrian Vasquez, Gil
and Austin Morgan) was photographed in DV-CAM on location
in the the Mexican city of Guanajuato with a shoestring
budget. The production featured Mexican acting students
who also doubled as members of the crew.
“Benito” has already received good comments
from Dennis E. Leoni, producer of Resurrection Boulevard.
“I found BENITO to be a warm, sweet little film, lovingly
told with poignancy and humor," said the
acclaimed Hollywood director and writer.
To arrange interviews or to feature Mr. Portillo in
your publication, please contact Patricia A. Gonzalez
at (562) 209-5643 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on “Benito” visit